We've been busier than ever, and it's mostly my fault because I can't seem to say "no" to my kids when they want to play sports. Wait, that's actually not true, they are not allowed to play football or ice hockey, but pretty much everything else is up for grabs if we can afford it and fit it into our schedule. Gymnastics is out for Maggie because at $17 per class, ain't nobody got time for that. Right now, John-Paul and Andrew run Fall Track, J-P, Andrew, Eamon & Maggie play soccer, and J-P and Andrew have been having basketball practices for over a month already. This means there is one day a week that Andrew has three different sports practices. Crazy. Every year I say I'm going to limit their sports, and every year they beg me to do it, and every year I say yes because in the end, I want them to be active and healthy and involved and skilled at sports. Exercise is important to our family and I need to just stop complaining. Besides, Phil and I have perfect work schedules to make all this happen - we finish work around 3 pm, don't work nights or weekends and don't travel.
Maggie's soccer coach walked over from practice one day to ask me if she was going to try out for the Competitive Spring Travel League. I was in the middle of feeding Declan a bottle, stuffing McDonald's fries in my mouth, and handing back cheeseburgers to the other kids in the car because that was the dinner du jour since Phil was in Parent Teacher Conferences for 4 hours that night. I looked at him and tried so hard not to laugh. I explained that we had 6 kids and it wouldn't be possible to get Maggie to games that could be an hour away. He said she was years ahead of the other girls on the team (thanks to her big brothers, no doubt) and he really encouraged her to try out. I said that was nice to hear, but no can do. Don't you know that same coach emailed me and then texted me reminding me of Maggie's skills and letting me know he would be the Spring Coach and would gladly help drive her to the games with his daughter. Well, that Bible passage about persistence is true, because between his praises and nudges and Maggie's pleas to try out, guess who caved. Yup, Softie over here. And then Phil and I discussed that we should let the boys try out if they wanted to also, since we don't do any Spring sports. Andrew and Eamon jumped at the chance and tried out as well. J-P didn't want to (yes!) and now we are waiting to hear who made what teams and who is on their teams to coordinate rides.
Back to my 11 year old, John-Paul. He is probably our least enthusiastic about sports, but still wants to play on the teams. The older he gets, the more he knows himself, and the less interested he becomes. Which is fine with us! He has interesting hobbies like art, and chess, and digital computer class. All things I know nothing about and am so glad to see his talents in these areas. He's an altar server, a member of the Middle School Youth Group, and part of an act in the variety show next month (he is the self-proclaimed best actor in the group...I'm waiting for the reviews). I brought him to the orthodontist this week for the consultation visit and since he has all his adult teeth grown in and an overbite and some crooked teeth, he's a prime candidate for braces. Next month he'll be our first official Brace Face. I had braces for 5 years (from ages 8-13) so I feel his pain, and I'm glad he can get them on and hopefully off before high school. Did you know braces cost $5000? Yeah, me neither. We figure we'll be on a payment plan for braces for the rest of our lives, because as soon as J-P is done, Andrew will need his, then Eamon, etc. etc. It's at times like these I am so glad we prioritized to pay off our debt while the kids were still little and relatively inexpensive. There's no way we could pay for braces if we were still paying off student loans!
Last Sunday, I went to a parent meeting for Eamon's big sacramental year of First Reconciliation and First Communion. There is so much to do! Eamon has been in Catholic school for 6 years and therefore doesn't have to go to Religious Education unless it's a sacramental year. That means he's required to this year. He has to go to 10 of the Religious Ed classes, 2 days of reflection, and 4 nights of Adoration. Phil and I are required to go to 6 out of 10 talks for Adult Education (even though Phil gives one of the talks every year) and have the Fatima Statue visit our home for a week. All these things are great and wonderful, but, but, I kinda feel like there are some families that need all of this prep work and some families that don't. I know, excuses, excuses.
Let's not even mention the Current Chaos Maker in the house, Alexander. Let's not even talk about how he has a penchant for flushing things down the toilet like his sibling's toothbrushes. Let's not discuss that if there's a pen or marker laying around, there will be carpet/wall/body scrubbing to do. Let's definitely not say unless he is eating or sleeping, he is walking around just looking for trouble. And those professional portraits we had taken of the kids this past weekend, let's not mention WHO ruined all of them. Let's not go there. At least Declan is still super easy and adorable.
It's just overwhelming this year. This is the first year that I really feel like having 6 kids is a LOT. Duh, right? But when they are little and not involved in much, it's easier in a logistical way. I kinda miss those days, even though they were so hard too and I can't believe I miss them at all. Maybe one day I'll look back and miss these days too, but for now we are just trying to survive. We're doing things as simply as possible wherever we can. Like their Halloween and All Saint's Day costumes this year are going to just be random repeats of years past. Crafty ain't my bag. Thank God for coffee and helpful husbands and Google Calendars and priests in the Confessional who let you know that your daily acts of service to your family ARE your prayer life. Amen and Alleluia.